Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 13th October, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Anna Taylor  03000 416478


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The Chairman informed Members that it was Mr Wright’s last Scrutiny Committee meeting. He thanked him for his contributions over the past 4 years, which included service as the Committee’s Vice-Chairman.


Declarations of Interests by Members in items on the Agenda for this Meeting

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No declarations were made.


Minutes of the meeting held on 7 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 283 KB

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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 7 July 2021 were an accurate record and that they be signed by the Chairman.


Update on Progress of the Loneliness and Social Isolation Select Committee Recommendations pdf icon PDF 136 KB

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Mrs C Bell, Cabinet Member, Adult Social Care and Public Health; Mr M Hill, Cabinet Member, Community and Regulatory Services; Mr R Smith, Corporate Director for Adult Social Care and Health; Mr D Whittle, Director of Strategy, Policy, Relationships and Corporate Assurance; Ms L Jackson, Policy and Relationships Adviser; Mr S Peerbux, Head of Community Safety and Ms S Sheppard, Communities and Place Lead, Adults Social Care and Health were in attendance for this item.


1.    Mrs Bell introduced the progress made against the recommendations of the Loneliness and Social Isolation Select Committee. She reminded Members that her predecessor, Mr Gibbens, presented the report to County Council in March 2019 and that a cross-service approach, involving Community Services within Mr Hill’s portfolio, was followed. Regarding progress generally, she recognised that whilst the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted social isolation and loneliness, the required response had impacted certain work streams. The impact of the Resilient Communities project, part of the Making a Difference Everyday, Adult Social Care policy was noted. Mrs Bell highlighted the positive impact digital technology had over the last two years in reducing social isolation and recognised that technology had become more popular with older age groups.


2.    Mr Smith acknowledged that social care had come to the forefront of public consciousness during the pandemic. He recognised that many individuals entered social care due to a lack of support from family or friends, and that this was directly linked to loneliness and social isolation. He further highlighted the impact of Kent’s older demographics and rural geography on isolation.


3.    Mr Hill commended the performance of community wardens in tackling social isolation and mentioned that the service had directly supported over 4,000 vulnerable people during pandemic.


4.    Mr Whittle confirmed that the final draft of the Civil Society Strategy had been out for public consultation from 6 September to 3 October, which would be followed by Policy and Resources Cabinet Committee consideration, 9 November, and an Executive Decision by Cabinet, after which the strategy would be Council policy.


5.    Members scrutinised the progress made against the Select Committee’s 11 recommendations. Key points raised by the committee and responded to by the attendees included the following:


a.            Following a question from a Member, Mr Smith acknowledged that socially isolated individuals were hard to engage by nature and that Adult Social Care worked with partners across the health and voluntary sectors, which included GPs and NHS mental health services. He noted that Adult Social Care made up part of a wider network which collaborated tackle the issue. Mr Hill added that libraries and registry services had the widest KCC service outreach and acted as a conduit for engaging and raising awareness of lonely individuals.


b.            Members asked whether the Civil Society Strategy could include a dedicated policy for tackling social isolation. Mr Whittle clarified that the strategy was intended as the corporate policy for voluntary and community sector partnership and was never intended to be a social isolation strategy, though he noted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Short Focused Inquiry - Home to School Transport - Update pdf icon PDF 259 KB

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1.    The Chairman introduced the item, noted the progress made on the Short Focused Inquiry, as outlined in the report, and confirmed that the inquiry would be chaired by Mr Barrington-King. Members that wished to be involved were encouraged to contact Mr Barrington-King.


RESOLVED that the update on the Short-Focused Inquiry on Home to School Transport be noted.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 182 KB

To consider and note the work programme for 2021/22.

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1.    Mrs Taylor gave a verbal overview of the work programme and confirmed that any member of the Council could request an item. Members were reminded that agenda setting meetings, involving the Chairman and Group Spokespeople, took place in advance of each meeting.


2.    Mr Rayner requested that an item on the input of planning officers into local plans, including the scrutiny of their decisions by Members, be added to the work programme. The Chairman agreed to consider this item.


RESOLVED that the report be noted.